Thursday, November 15, 2007

Publishing Feminist Theory in Philosophy Journals

Kathryn Norlock at St. Mary’s College of Maryland has produced a study enumerating the articles which philosophy journals have published on the topic of feminism. This sort of empirical accounting for the status of women in philosophy is essential but too often neglected. So thanks, Kathryn, for collating and analyzing this information!

Dr. Norlock’s preface and summary results of feminism-publishing journals follow:
The following lists are entirely compiled from Philosophers’ Index, and therefore are not representative of all journals available, only those listing with the Index, and of course, the Index itself is not complete. However, they may be useful to those wondering what journals on the index report. These are intended as suggestive only, since the methodology only searched for articles specifically described as feminist in approach. New and student scholars were especially interested to know the recent rough history of Index-listing journals.

Methodology: JN (journal name) and femini* in DE (descriptor) were initially searched for repeated journals. On subsequent searches, individual journal names were searched for femini* in DE (descriptor). Cross-checking yielded clear leaders, though the results are, as said, limited by the self-reporting nature of the Index.

The first number is the total number of articles, the second is the number since (and including) 2000. Journals who only had listings since 2000 have just one number, the total number of feminism-described articles, followed by the earliest year's article in parentheses.


Top 12, Highest to lowest, feminist-described, since/including 2000:

Hypatia 513/152
Social Epistemology 23/15
Philosophy Today 25/12
Constellations 18/10
Philosophy of Science 10/9
Feminist Studies 69/8
Journal of Social Philosophy 54/8
Radical Philosophy, 36/8
Journal of Speculative Philosophy 13/8
Bioethics 12/8
Theory, Culture and Society 9/8
Nursing Philosophy 8 (2000)

These are only part of Dr. Norlock’s results. The remainder can be found by joining the Google Group called “Feminist Draft Exchange” at this URL:

I have some thoughts on these results.

First, it is incredibly helpful to young (i.e. untenured) scholars to know the recent history for feminism-friendly philosophy journals. There has been some recent discussion about whether there is bias against women among philosophy journals (and, especially, bias against publishing feminism). Ethics has published only 7 articles since 2000 (and none since 2002) using the keyword “feminism.” It's entirely possible that the journal has not received many submissions, but if my tenure were on the line and I was working in a finite time-frame, I don’t think I would take that chance.

Second, for more on the issue of publishing feminist theory, I recommend Sally Haslanger’s paper(pdf) that has been making the rounds and is soon to be published in Hypatia. Her recommendations for taking action to improve the climate for women in philosophy include this:
Established feminists should:
• Submit work to mainstream journals.
• Use the term ‘feminism’/’feminist’ in our writing.
• Cite feminist work; urge mainstream colleagues to read and reference feminist work in
their areas.

Third, it would be worth refining Norlock’s results, a difficult task given the limitations of the Philosopher’s Index. I’ve noticed one discrepancy. Having posted here before on the difficult climate for women in philosophy of science, I was surprised (stunned, actually!) to see that Philosophy of Science was ranked among the top 5 journals for publishing feminist theory. I took a look at the ten articles that Norlock counted (using the methods that she helpfully provided), and six of them are in the annual supplement to the journal which contains Proceedings of the PSA conference (until recently conference papers were published under a separate title). So only two of the ten articles appear to be peer-reviewed. One is Janet Kourany’s paper “A Philosophy of Science for the Twenty-first Century” (2003), which was published with a response by Ron Giere and a reply by the author. The other is a 1994 article by Cassandra Pinnick dismissing the legitimacy of feminist philosophy of science.

There has been earlier discussion of feminist publishing in philosophy over at Feminist Philosophers and at the Lemmings Blog.

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